Free Friday Flix: Movie-In-The-Park Event

Posted: July 15, 2012 in Events
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This annual summer event is something I did in two of the markets I worked in. It’s basically a movie-in-the-park event. Put up a screen in a public area, show a family friendly movie, and invite the public to come for free.

Here is a sample promo we ran on the air at one of the more recent events…

This event can be very sales friendly, and counts as a community event. There is good and bad with it, and you can make it big or small too.

The first few years I did this event in Dayton, Ohio, it was huge! Most of the time and energy went into the hours leading up to the movie. We would start the event around 6pm – and the movie wouldn’t start until it was dark (between 8 & 9pm). So before the movie started, we invited our clients to set up booth on each side of the screen. They had to be doing something fun, and not just passing out pamphlets. And we encouraged all clients to do something for FREE. Hence the name. Everything is supposed to be free. Pepsi sponsored it and donated 100 cans of Pepsi, etc. Our station had a booth, and we would give out station related prizes.

Every half an hour leading up to the movie, we would do an event. The common events were: Coloring Contest with prizes, a Piñata, Water Balloon Toss, Sling shot T-Shirts into the crowd, etc.

We would also invite other members of the community (and clients) to do demonstrations. The local High School cheerleaders were all doing their summer cheer camps, and we invited them to do a show in front of the screen. Along the same lines, we invited the Band Camp members out to do a demonstration. On the client side, a local Karate school did a demonstration.

The attendance could be anywhere between 100 – 2,500. It depended on weather, the movie title, and the location.

In Ohio, we worked with the local Parks Department, who paid us to make sure it was at one of their entities. It was a different story in Albuquerque. The Parks Department let us do it, but they had so many rules, restrictions, costs and meeting after meeting to go to, that it prevented us from using their parks eventually. We had to do the event on private property or go to the neighboring towns to use their parks.

In later years, I did mini-versions of this event, and didn’t make the pre-movie event so big. Or offered it up as added value to other client events. We did a scary movie outside of a Haunted Farm as people waited in line for the Haunted House. We showed a sci-fi movie at the Roswell UFO Festival, etc.

Every time we did this event, we would show previews of our new fall shows, and sponsor commercials.

I obviously didn’t come up with this event.  I sort of inherited it as a station event when I came to work for ACME.  But I did add my own events to it.  My only problems with the event, is that if we did it big, it took A LOT of your time.  A LOT.  I felt like I was an event planning company instead of working at a TV station.  And the whole staff had to work it.  It just seemed like we took a month off of TV to do something random.  It was successful, but it was an energy zapper.  The other negative note about it…I didn’t see the connection to the TV station.  Both markets I did this in, we had TV shows that were more adult comedies, instead of a family friendly movie station.  To me, it would be compared to an ice cream social event for kids…put on by Hooters.

Plus, anybody could basically do a movie-in-the-park event.  And that was one of the growing problems too, as the equipment became more affordable and more available to do.  More and more companies were doing it on their own.

I did attempt to do a variation of this event that had more of a connection to our TV stations.  That event was Free Friday Funnies.  Click the link to see how that went.

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